American Photo Editor's Choice Digital Compact of the year, the Fujifilm
FinePix E900, plus 5 other top picks.
When you can get a digital point-and-shoot that's the size of a deck of playing cards (minus 26 cards), why would you buy a standard-sized compact camera? For one thing, its bigger, more ergonomic body is easier to hold steady -- increasing image sharpness. It often has a more generous zoom range than an ultrathin model. Its lens is likely to be faster too, making for more adept low-light and action shooting. And for a given set of features, a standard compact is simply less expensive.
Fuji's top compact follows the time-honored hot-rodder formula: Take a big, powerful engine and transplant it into a small, unlikely body. The big engine is the nine-megapixel CCD from the Fujifilm FinePix S9000, one of our top EVF models. The body is a satin-black-and-silver point-and-shoot that slips easily into a coat pocket. The Fujifilm FinePix E900's 4X zoom, a 32-128mm (35mm equivalent) f/2.8-5.6, is both wider and longer than the usual point-and-shoot lens, and pretty fast at its shorter focal lengths. Its superior sharpness and the camera's top-of-class megapixel count yield image resolution of more than 1,800 lines per inch, as tested by our sister magazine, Popular Photography. That's superior to a number of current D-SLRs.
Fujifilm FinePix E900
Meanwhile, the E900 does a remarkable job of controlling digital noise, usually the bane of compact cameras with small sensors. At its top speed of ISO 800, low noise makes the camera genuinely usable in dim light. Other similarities to the S9000 include fast start-up, capture, and write-to-card speeds, with hardly any noticeable shutter lag-also unusual in a compact. That performance is complemented by such advanced features as easy-to-use manual exposure control, RAW capture, a live histogram, and a movable AF point. The E900 even shoots VGA video at 30fps. Given the capabilities of this little camera, D-SLR users may be tempted to leave "the good camera" at home.